What kind of college has no football, no fraternities or sororities, and believes that one person can change the world? The kind of college my twelfth grade self had her little seventeen-year-old heart set on. More specifically, Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. In the wave of post-SAT college literature that flooded my mailbox (I must have checked a box: “Would you like to receive information from every college on the planet?”), Warren Wilson stood out. They had a farm, right there at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the green and the blue and the fog all merge into one misty cavalcade of beauty. A farm, which presumably you could work on instead of, say, going to Biology class.
In retrospect, that’s probably what freaked my parents out. Because no way in hell was I going to Warren Wilson College, a hippie school. So I didn’t. I went to a nice little state school, with no football and no fraternities or sororities. And, incidentally, no shortage of hippies.
So it comes as little surprise to my parents that I’ve spent a portion of my summer volunteering at a farm, or that I’ve taken such pleasure in it. My favorite farm chore — for reasons I can’t even begin to explain — turns out to be picking raspberries, though I’m also rather fond of weeding. On my family’s most recent visit, when I returned dirty-kneed from a morning at the farm with red-stained fingers and bramble-scratched arms and a contented smile, I heard my father mutter to my mother, “Maybe we should have let her go to Warren Wilson.” Maybe. Perhaps in some parallel universe they did, and my parallel self became exactly the sort of left-wing radical they’d always feared she would, throwing herself in front of bulldozers and chasing nuclear submarines around in a rubber dinghy with buckets of blood at the ready. Or perhaps — as I believe was my dad’s point — she, too turned out to be a quiet sort of hippie, the kind of girl who believes you’re much more likely to save the world with raspberries than with blood.